Three French Hens
“So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Chickens? How do chickens relate to the faith? And why French hens? This is an English carol. The fact that they referred to a French rather than an English variety of chicken may be an indication that the carol originated in France, or the words French Hens may have just had a good sound. Nevertheless, the three hens represent the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Chickens are prolific. Whereas a goose may lay thirty to fifty eggs in a year, a chicken will, on average, lay 325 eggs a year. Also, one can make a wide variety of tasty dishes using chickens. Thus, hens, whether French or English or American, reproduce in abundance and may be utilized in a wide variety of ways.
The theological virtues, when used by the faithful, reproduce in abundance–they are contagious. It is hard to despair when we are around someone who is full of hope. Faith breeds faith in others. And when we love the unlovable, change inevitably occurs.
Utilizing these primary virtues strengthens the user and brings growth to the Body. And these virtues exercised in the midst of unbelievers witnesses to the power of God, transforming the society that doubts and scoffs.
The theological virtues are represented well by the versatile hen.